Advert. No. 2018_0021
Working at ESO

Are you interested in working in areas of frontline technology and in a stimulating international environment? Do you feel your profile matches our requirements? Learn more about our current vacancies and apply online. Read more..

The European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world's most productive ground-based astronomical observatory. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries.


ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in northern Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor (home to ALMA and APEX), and the ESO Headquarters are located in Garching, near Munich, Germany.


At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world's most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, ESO is building the 39-metre Extremely Large Telescope, which will become "the world's biggest eye on the sky" and whose operations will be fully integrated into the Paranal Observatory.


For its Project Management Department (PMD), within the Directorate of Programmes (DOP) at its Headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany, ESO is advertising the position of

Project Manager


Vacancy closed on 31/07/2018

Deadline 31/07/2018

The department comprises a group of more than 15 project managers leading a wide variety of projects that expand and strengthen the scientific and operational capabilities of ESO's observatories in Chile. In addition to conducting such projects, the successful candidate will have the responsibility to further develop and implement, in close cooperation with the Head of Department, elements of project management and product and quality assurance as exercised at ESO. As this recruitment process is generated as a result of a pending retirement, a significant overlap with the current postholder and hand-over activity including the dedicated transfer of knowledge will be a natural part of the induction period.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

  • Conduct projects to develop and deploy systems, such as scientific instruments and sub-systems, forming a core project team with the project scientist and project engineer when applicable;
  • Work to further develop ESO's product and quality assurance policies, principles and procedures;
  • Support projects, in particular but not exclusively those, involving the design and the building of instruments for ESO's telescopes, and applying appropriate policies and principles. Emphasis will be placed on maintaining the high standards of reliability the community of European astronomers have come to expect from both the current and previous generations of these highly complex one-off products;
  • Support projects in ensuring that products designed or used by ESO meet the relevant safety requirements. This will happen in close cooperation with ESO's safety managers and specialists covering various technical disciplines;
  • Frequently in the role of chair or secretary, participate in project reviews, in particular covering the areas of project management, product and quality assurance, and safety;
  • Closely cooperate with ESO's configuration manager;
  • The above responsibilities are not exhaustive and a flexible approach and willingness to adapt to operational needs are required.

Reports to:

Head of the Project Management Department


  • The successful candidate will have at least five years of relevant professional experience in the management of science-related projects;
  • Familiarity with the standard PM tasks of scope, schedule and resource planning, change and risk management, as well as demonstrated ability to build, develop and lead project teams;
  • A formal qualification as a project management professional will be an asset;
  • A strong technical background in a relevant discipline, e.g. opto-mechanics, electronics etc., is very desirable;
  • Knowledge and experience with the development, testing or operations of astronomical instruments (optical and/or infrared, ground or space based) is considered a valuable asset;
  • Experience in the introduction and maintenance of a quality management system is highly desirable;
  • Experience in the use/application of a major Product Data Management system is desirable.

Key Competences:

  • Used to work both on own initiative and as a leader or member of a team;
  • Ability to build strong collaborative working relationships with people from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines;
  • Ability to work with partners from industry as well as academic or research institutions;
  • Provide clear, concise and timely oral and written communication identifying key issues, examining options and proposing steps ahead;
  • Monitor progress of own work performed and that of the project team, deliver to agreed deadlines and standards, plan activities, contribute to system design and be able to work under pressure;
  • Desire to learn and to further develop technical and interpersonal skills;
  • Prepared to travel frequently, also to Chile to visit sites at altitudes of up to and more than 5000 m.


University degree (MSc) in Project Management or Physics, or an equivalent educational level.

Language Skills:

A very good command of the English language - oral, reading and writing is essential and a working knowledge of German or Spanish would be an advantage.

Remuneration and Contract:

We offer an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary (tax free), comprehensive pension scheme and medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial help in relocating your family and the possibility to place your child/children in daycare.

The contract is for a fixed term duration of three years, and is subject to successful completion of the probation period. There is a possibility of extension(s) subject to individual performance and organisational requirements, and as defined in the applicable policies and staff rules and regulations. For any further information, please visit ESO's conditions of employment.

Duty Station:

Garching near Munich, Germany with trips to ESO sites in Chile as required.

Career Path: V


If you are interested in working in areas of frontline science and technology and in a stimulating international environment, please visit for further details.

Applicants are invited to apply online at Applications must be completed in English and should include a motivation letter and CV. Within your CV, please provide the names and contact details of three persons familiar with your work and willing to provide a recommendation letter upon request. Referees will not be contacted without your prior consent.

Closing date for applications is 31 July 2018.

Interviews are expected to be held soon afterwards.

No nationality is in principle excluded however, recruitment preference will be given to nationals of Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom irrespective of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, race or religion.

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